The Perpetuation of Matriarchy

For Grandma

Softly spoken ladies
Remind me of you
Beneath their breath is the heir of majesty
The strength in their voices
Causes my inner child to pause,
Though I am no longer mischievous
How is it that I made it this far without you to usher me along?
I remember your struggle because I know it is my turn
I am walking the same path as you
In a different century

One in the Same

There is no such thing as
“the perfect mom,”
There is no such thing as
“the perfect song.”

Each uniquely beautiful in their own way
The artist struggles just as mom does everyday
And oh! How she struggles ever so humbly
Swaying her hips to classics hit by Marvin Gaye
Or maybe even Chaka Khan
Because she is every woman
Who carries burden and the struggles of life along
Or even morning sickness as I swam deep within her rhythmic channels
Dear mama, understand that for you
It is not my outrage but for who
You were

Yes, I too, struggle
I carry the burdens of the ones with caramel complexions
And of course that, too, of the gentler sex …
Oh mama, however did you make it through those the nights
When you own father rattled your sheets!?
I cry with the very same tears
I scream with the same pitchy voice and, I too, have the same fears
As you

So really I am here to convince you
That we are truly one in the same
My authority ever minute
My pain is still your pain!
If only somehow I could relieve my “otherness”
The one that sets you and I apart
And even though we must take two separate journeys in this life
I’ve always loved you from the start

Pool Day

Tactile thirst makes her turn to

the window again and again.

Light rises like heat off the water

and she can taste it

with her whole body.

The crisp sheets of liquid,

the residue of a just-cleaned stain

between its folds.

For D.

A year ago today,

I wrapped you up in a goodbye.

I tucked my clockwork hears into

a quilt pieced from October oranges

and nougat creams,

and gave it to you,

your name stitched into it

with thread dark as blood.

In A Waiting Room

Legs like marionettes,

shuffling with feet made

of cotton balls and lead paint.

She swings them up and down

against the counter

and turns herself into a metronome.

No more than senseless rhythm

and tired wood.

Before I Loved Her

Claustrophobia is vodka
and the girl who craves my touch
in the parched
desert: how we swivel & entwine

in quiet moments when the world
is reduced to synchronous slow breathing,

along kisses and fingers bare and velvet,
cactus-quiet sleep descends

slowly, thornily,
upon we who have hope

The Last of Fairyland

She wanted the books to be real,
her father a duke or an earl
and not the one she saw so rarely,
and when he was home
nothing but rough hands
and beer breath and grunts for words.

And why not a castle
so her two sisters could have their own rooms
leaving so much more space
for a closet full of her
silk dresses, gold tiaras.

And if her father was to die
why not in battle.
He was soldier after all,
almost a knight by her reckoning.
But it was cancer that fired
fifty rounds into his chest
and none of them were blanks

She was young enough
to crave fairyland,
not a cramped house with no yard,
not third grade, bullying girls,
cold teachers,
not a mother pulling her
out of school at midday,
then trying to explain a death
in which no swords found their mark,
no one toppled from their steeds.

She had no wish to grow older,
not when she saw her elder sister
crying over a photo of their father in the Middle East,
in military uniform but without his rifle,
handing out gifts to children.
It was him all right
but she had never seen him so kind.
Yes he could have been a king.
The little girls might have been his subjects.
She didn’t burst into tears.
It was an illustration all right
but where was the underlying story?

The First Seven Weeks

In those first seven weeks movie-love was her vision
She was wet for a while but then she dried up
And my very appearance affirms her decision

My gut and my balding head earned her derision
She tossed me aside like a used paper cup
In those first seven weeks movie-love was her vision

“We don’t choose whom we love,” she declared with precision
But she loved me at times – my fat back was scratched up
And my very appearance affirms her decision

Platonically perfect, or so she envisioned:
“You’re so sweet to talk to, you lap it all up.”
In those first seven weeks movie-love was her vision

Now her journals contain the red marks of revision
No longer am I her adorable pup
And my very appearance affirms her decision

The black horse of “yes” is a grounded gray pigeon
Abashed I’ll be if again we meet up
In those first seven weeks movie-love was her vision
And my very appearance affirms her decision

Slow Swimmer

surface caress
dint of toenail farewell
tomorrow, i say
(i am here everyday)

(it helps me get away)

a body joined my lane today
but when a free lane opened
crossed the buoyant partition


(she was faster than i)

i used to stroke harder
when someone threatened
to pass me by, by

today i just let her pass, pass

yet my arms ached
like they never did
when i was younger

Play It Again, Sam

you found me in the streets
but said i’d never know how to bleed real
emotions always seemed to scream
a severed snake voice hissing:
turn up the dial, increase the pain
ignore the cries.
i took gatsby’s great american dream by the teeth.
it was never meant for me
i can only blame myself
for biting the curb.

i’ve earned my whipping girl bruises
by crowning the locks of low lying Lucifers
who whisper vows of everlasting light.
i’ve taken their pictures and i’ve stolen
their souls like a cocaine-powered grave robber
flying on the kick of a famous last heist.
they can’t compare; they never made me feel as low as you.

even after we died
i looked back.
you were my eurydice.

heaven as home is as grandiose and american as
your mother’s apple-pie and
your father’s gun.
heaven as home as you
killed our chances
ripped apart the threads of my mythology
made days tumble into unfinished sentences
made me lose myself
to prove that heaven as home could be true.